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'Raise up a child in the way he should go. And when he is old he will not depart from it.' This old proverb can cut both ways, so its imperative to teach youngsters the beauty of the earth and how to tend it.⠀
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Springtime and we're planting the garden here in Boulder, CO. Shepherd is getting to know soil. His interaction ranges from throwing, rolling, eating, somersaulting, smelling, wrestling, and pretending he's a rhino on the Serengeti or bison on American plains (BTW, places with dark soil). His relation has no barriers. Its the landscape of imagination. He loves it. I am reminded of all that I can learn from my kids. The unreasonable becomes obvious, work becomes laughter, bare feet over shoes, curiosity is constant, life is the present. ⠀
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Little people are a potent force for change. With every generation, antiquated ways of living are overturned by new ones. Let's sow beautiful ideas and practices into the hearts and minds of our children, so they work for the ecological and cultural integrity of the world. As John-Paul Maxfield says, 'cultivate the farmer within'. Start on your patch of Earth, no matter how small or large, land or no land, farm or skyscraper. This is the power of schoolyard gardens. Where there is space, there can be food, and that is the groundswell of change. ⠀
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@kissthegroundca @slowfoodusa@rodaleinstitute @kimbalmusk@edibleschoolyard @theecologycenter@shannonalgiere @jackalgiere@stonebarns @thekitchencommunity@thekitchen @alicelouisewaters@maxfields_organics@patagoniaprovisions @theperennialsf@wholesystemsdesign@vermontcompost @rustbeltriders

Philip TaylorComment
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The Wall Street Journal covers farming today. Words they use: 'Powers, dominance, eroded, capture, profits, imperil, strong dollar, lost share, etc.' I can hardly stomach the commodification of food. Farmers exposed to global market risk. Its ridiculous that farmers living on the Mississippi floodplain have to monitor market prices determined, this year, by Brazil's bumper crop. Brazilians are walking the same tightrope. U.S. taxpayers are going to shell out billions of dollars in farmer insurance, while U.S. companies like DuPont, Monsanto and Cargill ramp production in foreign countries, thereby eroding the market price for farmers that they also service in America (a true Conflict of Interest). This article showcases the modern despair of the industrial system, which neoliberal economic policies have spawned and touted as democracy. U.S. farmers are on the losing side of any equation that uses yield, acreage, and labor costs. The U.S. invented this equation, and now we pay. The invisible hand is slapping us in the ass, mainly farmers, that is. The article implicitly blames the shrinking farm acreage in the U.S. as a reason for out lack of competitiveness, citing conservation and urban development - bogus. Our addiction to soybeans is as ruthless as our epidemic of opioids.....I'd wager that they're linked. The heart and soul of the midwest is being eviscerated by folks that reduce food to a commodity, which is traded on rock bottom pricing, rather than something that nourishes the people and the ground, bringing communities together, creating local economy. Enough ranting, for now....@monsantoco @cargill @dupont

Philip TaylorComment
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The Pacific Sardine. One of the most important fish in the ocean. Sardines travel in large schools with their mouths open, filtering plankton from seawater, building muscles loaded with protein and omega-3 fats. They form epic 'bait balls' often showcased in documentaries, such as Planet Earth. Sardines are supercharged with nutrition. They are often called a forage fish because whales, seabirds, sharks, tuna, salmon, dolphins and sea lions heavily rely on them for food. Sardines and other small schooling fish like anchovies, menhaden, shad, herring, are the central cog of oceanic ecosystems. ⠀

Humans have decimated wild populations. Rather than eat these delicious fish, we grind them up for fishmeal to make animal feed, fertilizer and other agriculture products. About 20 lbs. of sardines are used to raise 1 lb. of tuna - a bogus and inefficient way to use the beauty of the Earth. ⠀

John Steinbeck saw the legendary 1947 sardine collapse in Monterery while he writing about paisano life in Tortilla Flat, and later Cannery Row. We are slow to learn. Though the population has been rebuilding, the plight of the sardine continues. Populations have plunged by 90 percent since 2007. Just last Sunday the Pacific Fishery Management Council extended the commercial ban on all forage fish along the coasts of Cali, Oregon and Washington. Thanks Oceana for all your work!⠀

Two months ago I was able to use a few of these special creatures with Josh and Bardford to make escabeche. We got them from TwoXSea, the best source of sustainable sea food. My joy was uncontainable. The tender & oily tissue, the subtle differences in every trait, from eye, cheek and muscle color, the bizarrely high ratio of muscle to viscera, the translucent scales and cerulean across their backs. ⠀

Mad Ag has been working to reduce pressure on sardine fisheries by inventing animal feed that doesn't use fishmeal. We use insects to replace fishmeal and other unsustainable ingredients. We work for vibrant oceans. ⠀

@oceana @patagonia@patagoniaprovisions @2byc @wwf@nrdc_org @ordinairewine@percyselections @brumairesf ⠀

Philip TaylorComment
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The soils are deep and the compost dark at Goshen. Kids set up tarp camp behind 3 cords of hardwood. My dad shows us how to tend the ground to tend the place. Stewardship is an intergenerational thing.

Philip TaylorComment
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Mad Ag has been on a journey to deeply understand animal feed. Questions abound: Where does it come from? Who grows it? Who formulates and mixes it? What's in it? How cheap or expensive is it, and why? What's the environmental cost? Are modern practices sustainable? If not, how can they be fixed? On and on and on.....⠀

'Googling' certainly helps, but if one is to truly understand animal feed, one must go to where animal feed is made. Know the land and people that produce it.⠀

Last week I headed east across the prairie to visit my friends, John and Sara Fehringer. They are incredible people of the prairie that own and operate a feed mill that produces organic, non-GMO feed. They are outliers. Everyone around them for hundreds of miles practices industrial agriculture with GMO crops and heavy synthetic inputs. We are working with together to create an insect-based animal feed that replaces unsustainable feeds composed of fishmeal and soybeans. (There will be more on this innovation in time to come). Radical stuff. ⠀

For now, I simply want to acknowledge the boldness, tenacity, courage of Fehringer Farms. I am proud and excited to be working with them. They are pushing against powerful industrial forces to bring incredible feed to the region. ⠀

This picture is of a grain elevator in Lorenzo, NE, near their feed mill. Prairie communities are organized along train tracks, where grains are storage and loaded for transport to market.

Philip TaylorComment
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Last week I drove from Boulder to Nebraska to learn about animal feed and grain farming. Everywhere I go I touch the ground, reach into it and grab soil. I squeeze it, rub it, smell it, and often taste it, hold it to the light, contemplate its origin and quality. There is an art to feeling soil. There are textbooks on it. I learned how at Virginia Tech in Jim Burger's notorious 'Forest Soils' course, a 3-credit course that required 20 hours of work each week. For my final exam I had to crawl into a soil pit and delineate horizons, pedogenic processes, edaphic properties. Though quite scientific, the vertical beauty of a soil reveals the complex chromatography of weathering and organisms working the crust of the Earth into ecological cycles.⠀

Here I'm holding a handful of soil on the tablelands south of Sydney, NE. It was derived from weakly concreted sandstone from an ancient ocean and loess (windblown sediments). This is what soil scientists call a Mollisol, the most fertile of ground: all of it under cultivation. This particular type of Mollisol is called 'Rosebud', a beautiful name. This handful of soil has unfortunately experienced an onslaught of chemicals, with names like 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid and atrazine, applied in an effort to keep weeds down in vast fields of monoculture grains. As far as my eyes could see, the high prairie has been turned into a sheet of grains. ⠀

Despite being mistreated for decades, it was wonderful to hold. I was surprised by its tone, texture, moisture and organic content. Standing there, looking down that long road cut across the prairie, I was reminded of how industrial agriculture strives to make everything uniform, linear and straightforward. It doesn't consider place. The road to a better, more resilient food system is far more tortuous, diverse and unknown. One thing is straightforward, we must treat the soil well. It holds both power and potential. Its where life derives and returns.⠀
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@whendeesilver @wholesystemsdesign@kissthegroundca @kimbalmusk@batch64 @blackcatboulder@lineageseeds @youngfarmers@patagoniaprovisions

Philip TaylorComment
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On Oct. 1st I received a letter from Wendell Berry. I had the chance to meet him this fall at the Land Institute's Prairie Festival. It took me 8 hours of scoping, tip-toeing and posting up near the area where he, Tanya and Mary sit. When I finally found the window to introduce myself, I blabbered a bunch of appreciations, not giving him chance to respond. I finished my flood of laudations by telling him that I had a package for him. I have no idea where this came from, maybe some dream of gifting Wendell with something that embodies the totality of my gratitude, but of course, I didn't have a package for him. So, he looked at me with his kindliest eyes, and said, "I don't want a package. I have to fly home tomorrow." Then I said, "Oh, of course, I don't have a package." He looked perplexed, so I backed away slowly, in a half-bow, as if before the Dalai Lama. Another disciple filed in to fill the void. I slipped out the back of the barn as Wes Jackson began rallying the crowd, walking numb into the rain. I finally made it back to my old Volvo Wagon, pulled out my typewriter, and wrote Wendell a long letter and six poems. Two weeks later, he responded. It was a brief appreciation that I will cherish forever. Mad Agriculture is wholly inspired by Wendell's Mad Farmer Poems. Thank you Wendell, for everything. 

Philip TaylorComment
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The brilliance of a greenback cutthroat. All the color, light and shadow of the entire mountain scape distilled into a single being. The trout sits within the flow of the watershed, capturing everything. I see the color and expression of lichens, moss, algae, granite, sunshine, liverworts, mica, clouds and rain come down. The wild secretion of the ecosystem.

@topodesigns @topodesignsboulder@rockymtanglers @thedrakemagazine@tenkararodco @tenkara_hokkaido_japan@tenkaramagazine @rockynps

Philip TaylorComment